08/14/2009 11:00PM

Heros Reward draws clear late

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Heros Reward tunes up for next month's Maryland Million Turf Sprint by winning the Mister Diz.

Heros Reward had to work a bit harder than his backers who made him the 1-5 favorite might have liked, but the millionaire Maryland-bred 7-year-old gelding still was strong enough in deep stretch to capture Saturday's $50,000 Mister Diz Stakes at Laurel Park.

Taking a steep class drop to face statebreds after competing in Grade 3 stakes in three of his last four outings, Heros Reward ($2.60) was still only fourth with a furlong remaining in the 5 1/2-furlong Mister Diz when jockey Anna Napravnik asked him for his best run. He drove clear in the final sixteenth of a mile to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths. Natural Seven rallied to get second by a head over Sandbaggin' Lover.

"There was an honest pace so we just sat behind and waited to go," said Napravnik, who was riding Heros Reward for the first time. He is an awesome horse. You can see by his form, he tries every time and has been running against the top turf sprinters in the country.

In winning for the 12th time in 33 starts, Heros Reward completed the distance over firm turf in 1:02.62. It was the seventh lifetime stakes victory for Heros Reward, now the 15th all-time Maryland-bred money winner with $1,045,298.

"He knows his job and he was the best horse today," said winning trainer Dale Capuano. "He s a nice horse. It worked out really well. We ve been shipping him all over the country the past few years. This works out really well for our schedule. It s nice to run him at home. He didn t have to run super hard and we did not have to travel."

Capuano indicated that Heros Reward will be pointed to the $100,000 Maryland Million Turf Sprint on Sept. 26 and the Grade 2 Nearactic Stakes, a race he won two years ago, on Oct. 17 at Woodbine. Capuano also hopes to make a return trip to Santa Anita for the $1 million Breeders Cup Turf Sprint, a race in which Heros Reward finished fifth in 2008, beaten just 2 1/4 lengths.